Light Rail

Rapid Transit Research Shallow

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 11, 2008

We'll publish a line-by-line critique of the Rapid Transit Feasibility Study very shortly. In the meantime, here's just one example demonstrating the study's lack of depth in research.

It claims that LRT vehicles require 4.8 m of vertical clearance, so the TH&B bridge over James St. and the pedestrian walkway over King St. at Summers Lane would have to be rebuilt at considerable cost.

However, a quick google search tells me that the Alstom Citadis, Siemens Avanto and Bombardier Flexity are all around 3.6 m (11.8 ft) in height from the top of the rail.

Granted, the overhead wire system would get in the way, but there's no reason Hamilton's LRT couldn't use a safe third rail for power (as in Bordeaux) and/or run on battery power for part of the route.

Also, a two-way LRT on Main (as opposed to one way on Main and one way on King) would eliminate the pedestrian bridge problem completely.

Even more astounding is the suggestion that the only way to run LRT up the Mountain is a 1.5 km tunnel through the escarpment, which would add hundreds of millions of dollars to the total cost.

That's absolutely ridiculous.

The only reason the study tries to ram the LRT up James Mountain Rd. to West 5th is that this was the route picked when the city only had BRT in mind.

A much more sensible solution would be to go up the under-utilized Claremont Access, which has a gentle grade and several lanes to spare.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 07:32:50

Yes, it's quite apparent (and we've known this to be true) that there was a last minute change to discuss LRT instead of just BRT like was being planned. Even the route alignments make no sense along King/Main. LRT (and the next phase of BRT) vehicles have doors that open on both sides. There's no need to run the vehicles in the right lane like a conventional bus.

The bottom line is this - folks on this forum and in the city who have been to cities with great LRT systems and reaped the HUGE economic development benefts need to take some time now and help educate council, and staff.
I"m excited that we're actually having this discussion. Now we need to help them out.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 08:34:08

hee hee...I like tunnels but that's cuz I like building them. Cost wise of course it's not a smart thing to do. I don't think it's actually necessary to run LRT up the escarpment at least right now. I would like to see LRT on Main/King and Mohawk. Imagine what Mohawk could turn into instead of bland faceless 2 and 3 storey apartments with the occasional sky-rise in between. Run BRT up and down the Mountain, close down James Mtn Road for that. I'm sure the college would be on board.

The whole TH&B bridge thing threw me to and when I looked at pictures it didn't quite seem to require the height the study suggested. What's the feasibility of a third rail throughout the system instead of overheads?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 11, 2008 at 09:02:24

What's the feasibility of a third rail throughout the system instead of overheads?

Here's Wikipedia to the rescue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_leve...

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 12:32:47

So it seems like water problems associated with it... Maybe I could put my engineering head to work and use that for my technical report that I have to write...

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 12:35:09

Here's a cool looking vehicle and the overhead lines aren't actually that ugly...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tranv...

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 12:38:16

Here's a rendering of what the LRT would look like in TO. Kinda neat.

http://lrt.daxack.ca/

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 12:41:34

personally, I love the overhead wires. If I was preparing a list of my top 100 urban eyesores I don't think small electrical wires would make the cut.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 14:35:47

I don't like the rat's nest that lives in Toronto. That doesn't look good. I suppose if the streetscape were made attractive that would help to. Just heard a new report about the new GO terminal and also heard a quote from one of the councillors saying that they need to evaluate if it will be an inconvenience to cars etc... here we go!

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 14:37:01

In all fairness he did say something about attracting more suits to use the transit system. Why does everyone go for the cheaper up front cost when it comes to things like this instead of thinking long term?

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 15:29:32

There are still way to many people who don't know what's going on downtown. Recently I got into a discussion with one of my coworkers who despite driving through downtown every day believes that downtown is dead. I explained to him that when the cars come out to play the people go away. He's an older gentleman and mentioned the thriving businesses that used to be downtown so I asked him when they started to disappear. Our councillors say they're committed to revitalizing downtown yet continually make decisions that demonstrate short sighted planning and car centric thinking! Which is it now?

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 11, 2008 at 16:36:22

FYI... "suits" will use LRT. They won't use BRT. How convenient to hop on an LRT which comes every 5-6 minutes to the downtown GO Station for the morning train to TO...or better yet, to the office job at King and James. LRT is more superior on every level. Scrap the unnecessary and expensive tunnel idea and do proper research on LRT and it will be an easy choice.

My A-Line routing idea: south on James to Charlton, east on Charlton with a stop at St. Joes and a stop at Ferguson Ave. Then it can curve up onto the Claremont Access in an LRT-only lane. At the top of the Claremont, the rampway that runs along the escarpment towards West 5th, and is always devoid of traffic, can be closed and turned into a transit-only area (how wonderful for the residents there who would enjoy peace and quiet for the first time in decades). The trains would run to Mohawk College, east on Fennell to Upper James and out to the airport. Our city is small and compact enough to allow for both the A and B Line to be LRT. The LRT could run both ways on northern edge of the Claremont Access resulting in the removal of 2 of the 4 lanes. That still leaves 3 lanes northbound (with one exiting to Wentworth) and 2 lanes southbound to Upper James for cars.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 13, 2008 at 10:41:17

Nice routing.

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